Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation is a series of processes that protects targeted sites and servers against DDoS attacks.
DDoS attacks are common cybersecurity threats that can bring down sites, applications, and servers by flooding them with junk traffic. This flood of data requests, packets, or queries becomes so overwhelming that the targeted host is no longer able to process any more data, rendering it unavailable to legitimate users.
Malicious parties deploy these attacks for numerous reasons on a wide variety of targets.
- Cybercriminals may be after valuable information and use a DDoS attack as an extortion tool.
- Some sites may be targeted by hacktivists, which are groups willing to disrupt or take down sites due to their political stance.
- Governments may deploy DDoS attacks in an act of cyber warfare.
- Online vandals will sometimes deploy DDoS attacks out of boredom.
Whatever the reason, DDoS attacks are on the rise, and it’s more important than ever to know how to mitigate DDoS.
In this guide, we’ll address the following questions:
- What is DDoS mitigation?
- Why is it important?
- What are some examples of DDoS attacks?
- How do you successfully mitigate DDoS attacks?
- What are some tips to prevent an attack before it happens?
What is DDoS Mitigation?
DDoS mitigation is the process of stopping a DDoS attack and restoring service to the targeted host. DDoS attack mitigation works by detecting and blocking excessive spikes in network traffic, typically brought on through the efforts of malicious third parties.
Cybercriminals seek to flood servers, websites, applications, infrastructure, or other assets with requests in an attempt to bring down or take your services offline. It can be difficult to determine when a DDoS attack is occurring as opposed to a legitimate failure of service. This is because many DDoS attackers are careful to obscure their activity until they’ve compromised a network.
When the traffic has leveled off and your services are running properly again, it’s time to analyze what went wrong. Recover details from the influx of traffic, and you may be able to identify the culprit or, at the very least, strengthen your system going forward.
Examples of DDoS Attacks
DDoS attacks happen frequently to organizations of all sizes, but they don’t all act the same. There are several types of attacks you should be aware of in an effort to better mitigate DDoS.
The three main types of DDoS attacks are:
- Volume-Based Attacks: Overwhelm a server by congesting it with traffic and occupying all its bandwidth.
- Protocol Attacks: Target one endpoint with a request that never gets confirmed, flooding that endpoint with requests.
- Application-Level Attacks: A slower moving attack that floods a server with repeated HTTP requests.
6 DDoS Attack Mitigation Methods
One of the reasons DDoS attacks are on the rise is that more and more devices are coming online. Most DDoS attacks are perpetrated by a botnet, a network of devices that are infected with malware in hopes of coordinating an attack. This botnet of devices is what’s behind the flood of illegitimate data requests.
The growth of the Internet of Things paves the way for botnets to become more common and sophisticated at the same time. It’s important that you play defense against these cybersecurity threats to maintain your services and avoid costly downtime.
If you’re wondering how to mitigate a DDoS attack, here are six tips to prevent a DDoS attack from bringing down your server:
1. Recognize the Signs
To stop a DDoS attack before it disrupts your service, you need to familiarize yourself with the signs that an attack may be occurring. If you haven’t already installed and organized server-monitoring tools, such as popular choices like FusionReactor APM or SolarWinds, this is a crucial step of DDoS mitigation.
Pay attention and learn your typical traffic patterns. If you have a general idea of the volume of requests you receive throughout the week and at what times, you’ll be able to identify when traffic spikes to a suspicious level.
And of course, if your server is not performing or having difficulty performing tasks, contact your host as soon as possible to investigate further. Hosting providers such as Liquid Web offer basic DDoS protection across all servers with optional enhanced protection for customers who need advanced mitigation services.
2. Take Preventative Measures with Your Server
If you haven’t set up DDoS protection for VPS or your dedicated server, there’s little you can do during an actual attack. However, there are some preventative measures you can take to prevent the lowest level of DDoS from taking place.
Here are five actions you can take up front to prevent an attack:
- Choose a host with more than enough bandwidth for your site(s).
- Use an intrusion detection system (IDS), intrusion prevention system (IPS), or web application firewall (WAF) for early attack detection.
- Add filters that block packets from obvious attackers (junk or blacklisted IP addresses, infected devices, etc.).
- Drop all malformed and spoofed packets.
- Lower your thresholds for SYN, Internet control message protocol (ICMP), and user datagram protocol (UDP) flood drops.
3. Use a DDoS Failsafe
The primary objective of a DDoS attack is to bring your site or service offline. Have a backup plan using automatic failover and/or fault tolerance so users can still access services or complete requests. This will allow you to mitigate DDoS and the potential damage it can cause.
For example, if a user is locked out due to a traffic overload, give them a method to reach out and address the issue. Botnets are incapable of passing these channels, and you’ll be able to identify malicious traffic more easily.
4. Install DDoS Mitigation Tools
For advanced attacks and optimal protection, you will want to have a CSF firewall for DDoS mitigation. Equipped with a powerful infrastructure and advanced detection and monitoring technology, mitigation tools like CSF make prevention and protection far easier than if you attempted to weather such a storm on your own.
Ideally, your DDoS prevention tools will allow users to function normally online on your site in the event of an attack. Malicious traffic will be identified, diverted, and filtered out without disruption to your users.
5. Have a Disaster Recovery Plan
An integral part of how to mitigate DDoS is having a disaster recovery plan in place. Have a clear guide for your organization in the event of a service failure due to an attack. Employees should be trained on DDoS protocol just like any other workplace emergency.
6. Monitor All Suspicious Activity
It’s common that DDoS attacks are often disguising other malicious network activity. The flood of traffic can act as a diversion while cybercriminals siphon off valuable information or data. When an attack is taking place, it’s always better to monitor all of your endpoints.
Install software that automatically alerts you to suspicious behavior like duplicates and deletions. Large downloads can also be a common anomaly, in which something like Alert Logic can help identify this kind of suspicious activity. These tactics will not only help with DDoS mitigation but will help identify the purpose behind the attack.
How to Mitigate DDoS Attacks
DDoS attack mitigation starts with awareness. Once you can identify and detect certain kinds of attacks, you can use mitigation tools to reroute junk traffic and get your site back up and running.
Always take preventative measures when setting up servers and have plans in place for your users and your organization. If you monitor your traffic, you may be able to reach out to your host and stop a DDoS attack before it gains momentum.
Liquid Web DDoS Protection Services come with every Liquid Web hosting solution, along with premium levels of service for sites that want optimal protection.
Need Help Securing Your Entire Infrastructure? Download Your Complete Security Infrastructure Checklist for SMBs.
A self-professed pirate captain with two decades of leadership experience, Jerry has led teams from 60+ cooks and chefs to 16 networking engineers. He brings those years of experience to his current role as Product Manager at Liquid Web, focusing on networking and security products. When not working or sleeping, Jerry can usually be found eating and having a good conversation with good people.
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